Sermons

Summary: With the exception of those sections dealing with “natural law” and its relationship to Christianity, I am indebted to the lectures of Beth Cabrera, The Great Courses Plus.com regarding the contributions of "positive psychology" to the field of management.

(If you have found this sermon helpful, please visit us at www.HeritageRestorationProject.org or www.ChristianWisdom.info)

In Ephesians 6:5-9, we read that servants are to be obedient to masters. Presumably today this applies to employees and other workers. They are to be obedient to whatever authority is over them. Reading a little further we find that employers (masters) must be worthy of obedience, faithfully caring for employees, and not using threats so accomplish management goals. In 1Timothy 5:8 we read, “But if anyone not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” These rules are applicable to management practices within churches, schools, businesses, and other organizations. The workers in an organization are management’s “household”. Management is responsible for the well-being of his/her organization.

Researchers today are finding that the most successful organizations are those in which the organizational leader establishes a climate of “well-being” for members of the organization. This sense of well-being was described as “Eudaimonia” by the 4th century B. C. Greek philosopher Aristotle. Eudaimonia comes about as the result of human flourishing; i.e., a sense that one is performing well and living up to one’s potential by making meaningful contributions. There is a philosophical concept referred to as “natural law” that determines flourishing as opposed to

not-flourishing in the broad ontological sense; i.e. “being” as opposed to “entropy”, entropy being the degradation of matter to the point of wasting away into non-being or chaos. Healthy being or “well-being” occurs when people are habitually living in conformity with natural law. Aristotle calls good habitual modes of functioning by the term “virtues”. Christianity has a similar concept. It is, however, expressed in the negative: The opposite of living in conformity to God’s natural law is “sin”, which the soul, if awakened to perception, sees as a loathsome threat to spiritual life; i.e. the cause of “death” in the broad ontological sense of the word “death” (see Romans 7:22-25).

If the human soul seeks happiness (in the sense of harmony with natural law) as Aristotle seems to maintain, then the things that make us most “happy” are the habits of virtuous living which are in harmony with natural law, and therefore favorable for survival (in the ontological sense). Jesus taught something similar in the section of Scripture known as “The Beatitudes”. He lists reasons for being blessed (happy), all of which suggest that obedience to the natural law of God may result in suffering in this life but will ultimately result in happiness in the next life. For example, “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven….” (see Matthew 5:3-12). Being in harmony with natural law is the same as being in harmony with God’s law, for God created natural law by which the universe and everything in it is held together. The closer we ourselves conform to “natural law”, the closer we come to resembling Christ, the teleological end goal that God intends for humanity.

All physical matter was created through the word of God which separated that which exists from chaos (see Genesis 1:1-26). The word of God is the natural law. That which exists must conform to the natural law if it is to continue to exist. For example, an element such plutonium has an atomic structure. So long as the atomic structure conforms to the “law”, by which it was called into being, it exists as plutonium. If you break up the internal atomic structure of plutonium, plutonium ceases to exist. It is no longer in conformity with the law by which plutonium was defined, separated by God’s word, the natural law, out of chaos. Extrapolate this into all that exists, including humanity itself. If humanity goes against the natural law which make us human; i.e., if one engage sin habitual “sin”, not conforming to the natural law by which “human” is defined to be human, or in the biblical sense is defined to be a son or daughter of God, humanity breaks down, decays, entropies, and eventually the human soul is obscured to the point of being lost.

The concept of natural law is in harmony with both the Bible’s description of the fall of man as described in Genesis, and the redemption of man, as described in the New Testament. It is also similar to Aristotle’s concept of right and wrong, good and evil, as put forth in his Nicomachean Ethics. Now the really interesting thing is that recent secular research supports both the biblical concept of God’s law, and Aristotle’s concept of good and evil. That which is favorable to survival in the ontological sense; referred to by Aristotle as “well-being”, is the good we should be striving to reinforce in both our personal and our institution life.

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